In January, one of my precious yellow Labradors, Maddie, was diagnosed with heart disease. Our veterinarian told us there was no way of knowing exactly how much longer she had to live, but that she would definitely pass within the year. Devastating news.
Maddie is nearly 12 years old--old for a Labrador. We knew our days were numbered with her, but not with such conviction.
After two weeks of crying and pity, we made a decision. We were going to make whatever time we had left with Maddie count! We made the decision to put our biannual European travel on hold this year. While my heart longs to be somewhere far away where I don't understand the language, and my feet itch to walk ancient lands, I would never forgive myself if Maddie's time came while I was away.
Commitment is something I take seriously. Nearly 12 years ago, I committed to a fluffy little yellow puppy and her sister, Millie, to be the best doggie mommie I could be to them. These girls--and their now adopted sister Mocha (a chocolate Labrador) and brother (our adopted Rottweiller)--have travelled with us, hiked in the Colorado mountains, swam in beautiful rivers, enjoyed pool days each summer, eaten the best food, played with the best toys, and lived a life of doggy luxury. Maddie and her siblings (including the latest additions: Rosie, our adopted Daschund, and Macie, our adopted Border Collie mix) have a good life! Hubs and I will continue to honor our commitment till the time they are wagging their tails in doggie heaven.
So what do I do with this aching desire to travel? Fortunately for me, planning client vacations is my business. On one hand, it makes the ache stronger as I'm designing exciting itineraries in some of my favorite European destinations. On the other, it keeps me connected to them until I can return again.
Being in the 'business,' I try to stay on top of the latest in travel news through news sources and travel blogs. This, too, often fuels my travel cravings, but it also gives me a little feeling of being there. One of the things I enjoy is stumbling in StumbleUpon. Here, you type in your interest (in my case, I type in a destination) and this search engine finds the best websites, photos and videos on that topic. Not only does it allow me revisit beloved places, it introduces me to new ones. My "Must Go There" list is growing exponentially. Pinterest, the virtual pinboard, is another great way I stave off my travel thirst through the great World Wide Web. Of course, Facebook and Twitter play a big role in keeping me in touch with friends abroad.
It's been five months since that dreaded diagnosis. Maddie is doing well. She has slowed down considerably, but she has moments when she still romps about like the little puppy we brought home 12 years ago. Saddly, we've learned that her sister, Millie, has heart disease as well. And recently, Mocha, who is 11, had a cancerous tumor removed. We have chosen not to run further diagnostic tests on either dog to determine their fate. It doesn't matter. We will be here to love them, care for them and make their senior days the best any ol' dog could ever wish for!
To all my cherished European friends and places: I may not be with you this year, but until I the time I do return, my heart is with you all!